Sunday, January 24, 2010

cockie campaign to commence

Council started up its regular schedule of meetings for 2010 last week, up on the agenda was discussion about the cockatoo issue (see blog).

Last year the community met to discuss the ongoing issue with cockatoos and their chewing. I was there along with Parks Victoria, DSE and the local state MP.

It is a challenging issue for council, last year the birds were voracious in their chewing of Kallista and surrounds. But it didn’t stop there, I had reports of chewing in Belgrave, Menzies Creek, Tecoma, The Patch and Monbulk too. In conversations with the DSE it is clear that there is a direct link between feeding cockatoos and this chewing behaviour. Rather than foraging for food in the wild, the cockatoos get a full belly very quickly from bird seed, leaving them with plenty of time to chew fixtures, fittings, mortar, power supply lines, you name it, to hone their beaks.

Kallista Kindergarten suffered countless attacks by cockatoos in 2009, much of their playground was made unsafe and parents had to spend precious funds to repair the damage.

In discussing the issue it was decided that a concerted education campaign be the first step in changing people’s attitudes to feeding cockatoos. I think it is important that people are given the opportunity to understand the issue, how it affects the birds and the consequences to neighbours and their property.

I have been working with the DSE and the Shire’s environment department to produce a flyer to distribute to residents across the Dandenongs.

Along with written material, signage will be placed in picnic grounds to discourage people to feed the birds. At the moment is only illegal to feed wildlife in national parks, except for the birds at Grant’s Picnic Ground where there is a legally binding lease in place to 2019 to allow this practice to continue.

It is a difficult issue, bird feeding is something that many people enjoy. It is possible to enjoy our wonderful wild birds without feeding them bird seed. Providing habitat and natural food sources is a great way to ensure your backyard has a thriving bird population.

After twelve months the success of the education campaign will reviewed and a local law considered. I think it is very important to start with an educative approach as the first step, enforcement should be a secondary measure. People must be given the opportunity to learn how detrimental feeding cockies can be.

The cockatoo issue will come before council for formal resolution, watch this space for more details.

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